Crucible with encrusted iron oxide and glass

Crucible, ca. 1618-1650

An economic pursuit of New World resources drove the colonization of Virginia. With Spain reaping the wealth of Central and South America in the form of gold, silver, and other precious minerals, England hoped for the same financial opportunities in Virginia. Although tobacco quickly replaced the pursuit of gold and silver, colonists shipped New World lumber, iron, glass, and other raw materials back to England to supplement this profit with Virginia’s readily available resources. 

Brass trumpet-style pestle

Trumpet-style pestle, brass, ca. 1618-1650

This crucible and pestle were discovered within Flowerdew Hundred’s fortified settlement (ca. 1618-1650). The crucible would have been used to contain molten iron and glass, as is evidenced by the iron oxide and glass residue adhering to its sides. The pestle would have been used for finely grinding minerals, plants, and other raw materials to be used in everything from alchemy to food preparation. 

Title Page from John Smith's A True Relation

Title page from John Smith’s A True Relation, 1608

Alchemy and the manufacturing of glass and iron were common at Flowerdew Hundred and surrounding settlements, catering to both the settlement’s need and the increased demand from a growing British Atlantic economy. As with most domestic tools in 17th-century Virginia, both the crucible and pestle were made in Europe, traveling to the colony to become part of the New World economy.